A former English cricketer who defrauded more than £100,000 meant for young players has been jailed for two years.
Andy Hayhurst, 52, of Worsley, Greater Manchester spent the money on lavish restaurants and luxury holidays, Manchester Crown Court was told.
The ex-Lancashire, Somerset and Derbyshire all-rounder admitted taking the money while working as a £50,000-a-year Lancashire Cricket Board director.
While sentencing him, Judge John Potter said it was a “spectacular fall from grace”.
“The cricketer embarked on ‘a career of serial dishonesty… inspired by greed’ when he plundered money earmarked for developing youth cricket”, said the judge.
“Your acts had the potential to provide young people with the opportunity to play and enjoy cricket. Opportunities from which you benefitted throughout your life and sporting career.”
While playing part-time for Worsley Cricket Club, where he had started as a youngster, Hayhurst used headed paper to submit fake invoices to the Lancashire Cricket Board (LCB) asking for money for coaching.
He then took the board’s cheques – for up to £10,000 a time – to the club’s treasurer saying the money was intended for them and the rest was due to be paid to other local clubs.
When a blank cheque was handed back to him from Worsley Cricket Club, he banked the cash for himself. In 20 incidents between August 2006 and July 2013, Hayhurst pocketed £107,548 which he used to pay for lavish meals in restaurants and family holidays, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
Hayhurst pleaded guilty to fraud, theft, obtaining property by deception, false accounting and concealing criminal property.
Worsley Cricket Club received just £7,062 to fund coaching and the building of better training facilities during the seven-year period.
Summarising a statement, prosecutor Charlotte Crangle said Hayhurst was “held in high regard by all members” and even seen as a “hero” by some.
Ms Crangle said: “There is a feeling the club will be tainted by his actions, it will struggle to receive grants in the future.”
LCB chairman Bob Hinchcliffe said in a statement read to the court the board has “a strong feeling his actions have damaged our reputation and that of the England and Wales Cricket Board”.
Hayhurst initially maintained all of the accounts were in order but he repaid £22,713 in December 2013 before the police investigation started.
He will appear before a Proceeds of Crime hearing a date to be confirmed to determine how the rest of the money will be repaid.
Hayhurst played for the Red Rose county between 1983 and 1989. He went on to become captain of Somerset before ending his cricketing career with a brief spell at Derbyshire.
He was employed by LCB from 2002 until the board terminated his contract in October 2013. He was also secretary of the Lancashire County Youth Cricket Charitable Trust.
The LCB said the police investigation into Hayhurst’s fraud was launched “with information received from and [with] the full co-operation of the LCB”.
Hayhurst had played 166 First class matches for Derbyshire, Somerset and Lancshire.He has 7825 runs and has 110 wickets to his name.